Before division of marital property, it is important to categorize between marital and non-marital property. The respective state court preaches for equitable distribution of the marital property. This kind of fair distribution of marital property is very much scientific and this provides you much needed debt relief to you or your spouse in case you or your spouse is troubled with debt woes.
Here it is to be noted that courts do not have any authority over non-marital property. So, first of all, the respective court on your state has to determine whether or not it has authority over property. Usually any property acquired by either you or your spouse before your marriage is considered as non-marital property. Again, any property acquired by either you or your spouse after your marriage comes under marriage or marital property. Property that comes under marriage property must be equitably divided between you and your spouse under the direction of the court.
There are some properties acquired after marriage, that do not do not come under the category of marital property. For instance, property acquired by either of you in the form of legacy, gift or descent, does not come under the division of marital property. Again, property acquired by either of you after a judgment of legal separation or property acquired by you or your spouse through valid agreement of the parties, do not fall under marriage property. However, there are many cases where marital and non-marital properties are combined together. In such cases, separation of two types of properties is very complicated. For example, if you have some money even before your marriage and used up the money in a joint account with your spouse after your marriage, it then becomes very difficult to categorize that property. Same thing happens if you use up your inherited money to purchase a house along with your spouse after your marriage.
The onus to divide the marital and the non-marital property lies upon the respective state court. The court determines the category of the property as well as it is responsible for equitably split the property between you and your spouse. Equitable distribution of property does not imply equal distribution of property between you and your spouse.
However, at the time of equitably distributing the property between you and your spouse, the respective state court has to consider certain things. The court determines the contribution made by each of you to the acquisition, decrease or increase in the value of the marital and non-marital property. The duration of your marriage and the value of the property assigned to each of you are also important considerations that the respective court makes. Apart from these, the custodial needs of children as well as the age, occupation, health, income, marketable skills, estate, liabilities etc of both of you are taken into consideration before splitting the marital property.